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Meeting focuses on running Teche Regional

Hospital Service District 2’s Board of Commissioners, which has been seeking new management for Morgan City’s Teche Regional Medical Center, has called a rare Friday evening meeting to talk about it in closed session.
The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Morgan City Courthouse, 7261 La. 182.
The public agenda includes public comment and “any business which may properly come before the Board of Commissioners.” An executive session will discuss the termination of the lease agreement with LifePoint Health, which currently manages Teche Regional, and negotiations with Ochsner Health System.
The board voted Oct. 9 to negotiate exclusively with Ochsner, one of three health care organizations the board contacted about running Teche Regional.
LifePoint, a Tennessee-based company, has operated Teche Regional since 2005 after LifePoint merged with Province Healthcare, which had entered into an agreement in 2001 to lease the hospital for 40 years, according to the hospital’s website.
In April, Scott Smith, Louisiana market CEO for LifePoint, said that the company had divested itself of three of the four hospitals it operated in Louisiana, but hadn’t yet made a decision on Teche Regional Medical Center.
However, Smith also said in April that LifePoint was in talks to possibly transfer operation of Teche Regional to another company. Then, in August, LifePoint announced its plans to merge with RCCH HealthCare Partners but keep the LifePoint name.
The Hospital Service District No. 2 board has been negotiating with LifePoint to end the remainder of the 40-year lease. The board has offered the community assurances that hospital operations and services won’t be interrupted.
The board has appointed Chairman Heath Hoffpauir and member Bill McCarty to a committee to negotiate with Ochsner.
The board had come in for criticism from hospital staff members and members of the public because much of the discussion about its dealings with LifePoint have taken place in closed-door sessions. Attorney Nicholas LaRocca defended the board’s actions, saying open meeting rules that apply to other government entities put publicly run hospitals at a disadvantage in business negotiations.
The state Enhanced Ability to Compete Act gives public hospital authorities the right to conduct some negotiations outside public view.
With input from the St. Mary Parish Council, the hospital district board appointed a citizens advisory committee.

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